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Couture Skirt Refinements

Threads #203, June/July 2019

I’ve been a collector of Chanel garments for many years and have come to appreciate the chic and classic nature of the design house’s skirt suits. Through my research, based on original pieces I own as well as vintage garments in museum collections, and published information, I’ve culled key construction techniques. These yield a skirt that’s sleek, nicely shaped, and exquisitely finished. Applying these methods to a pattern of my own design, I can make a timeless, comfortable, and long-wearing skirt, and so can you.
The skirt in question is a faux-wrap style with a straight silhouette. In most versions I’ve made, the outer fabric is quilted to a soft silk lining, mimicking Chanel methods. The style is subtle, and some of the refinements I’ve included aren’t visible in the finished garment. However, they make a big difference in wear. Starting with the pattern, the side seams are eliminated and replaced with darts. Next, darts are eased rather than sewn. The zipper installation technique creates a little “pocket” at the top where the slider and pull can settle, so they don’t show when the skirt is worn. The waistband is abutted at the center-back opening rather than overlapped, for a flatter finish. Finally, there is an option for two short zippers instead of a single long one.
You can add some or all of these details to your own skirts, whether or not you follow the full designer construction method. I show the techniques on a traditionally quilted skirt, but you can adapt them as desired for similar effects on other designs.

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